Office of Student Affairs, Counseling Services expand telemental care

By Olivia Montes
News Co-Editor

As the 2021-22 academic year progresses, the Washington College campus is striving to provide more mental health resources and tools for all on campus — one of which now includes telehealth counseling services. 

On Oct. 11, the WC Office of Student Affairs and Health & Counseling Services, in partnership with telemental health contributor Mantra Health, announced via email that expanded virtual mental health care is now available to all students, which officially launched on Oct. 4. 

According to Director of Counseling Services Dr. Miranda Altman, this partnership was created under the Mental Health Working Group, alongside other mental health counseling initiatives, including the student-led wellness advocacy coach program WAC-squared and a growing social media presence. 

“The goal is to create a positive campus climate in which students are free to talk about their mental health,” Dr. Altman said.

Through these initiatives, according to Interim Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Greg Krikorian, the committee members, comprised of WC students, faculty, and staff, strive to provide the College community as much expanded programming and support systems as possible, and add to the overall conversation of mental health on campus. 

“Telehealth is a growing trend and practice in higher education, as it allows more flexibility in scheduling and in selecting a provider that has experience in dealing with specific mental health issues and individual needs of the student,” Krikorian said. “[In addition] the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly helped to illustrate that some students feel very comfortable in accessing support through a virtual platform.”

Krikorian said that Mantra was selected because “their model provided the level of confidential services to meet the diverse needs of our student body,” and the committee checked the quality of the program prior to officially utilizing them as a provider. 

According to the email, Mantra has a “directory of licensed masters level therapists available to support students through video and messaging services,” where students can choose a provider that works best for them. 

To sign up, students can visit app.mantrahealth.com to create their accounts using their WC email address. Students then must complete the required tasks in the Mantra Patient Portal in no more than 10 minutes, which can help therapists determine what to focus on in each session, set goals, and establish a treatment plan that works best for each student. 

From there, students can schedule their first visit, and then join their scheduled appointment via Patient Portal. Additional questions can be directed to hi@mantrahealth.com or (800) 464-2083. 

In addition to engaging in video calls with a mental health expert of their choice, students can also develop ongoing communication with their therapists through an included messaging system; initiate a customized treatment plan; and track their progress through supplemental prompts and tools to see if their treatment plans are working through Mantra, according to the email. 

“Because students are existing at the same college in the same space, they share many of the same challenges, [and] that creates an inherent level of understanding that can be harder to achieve with a professional counselor who’s in a different life stage,” Dr. Altman said.

According to the email, using Mantra’s virtual platform, students can sign up securely through Patient Portal. For current WC students, the first six sessions are free of charge. The cost of additional appointments will then depend on a student’s current health insurance plan. 

Evening and weekend sessions are also available. Sessions do not require a referral from WC Counseling Services. 

 “[While this] doesn’t replace counseling services, it adds to our menu of support and maximizes resources,” Dr. Altman said. “The common theme is that talking helps.” 

Mantra Health is not a crisis or emergency resource. If you are experiencing an emergency, contact Public Safety at (410) 778-7810. For off-campus counseling, students can contact For All Seasons at (800) 310-7273; University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton at (410) 822-1000; or University of Maryland Shore Health Center at Chestertown at (410) 778-3300. For immediate assistance, call 9-1-1. 

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